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Film and TV

Kids TV show introduces non-binary unicorn and right-wing cranks are predictably ticked off

Vic Parsons August 23, 2021
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The Wiggles has introduced its first non-binary character.

New Wiggles member Shirley Shawn the non-binary unicorn. (Screenshot/InstagramTV/TheWiggles)

Popular Australian kids TV show The Wiggles has expanded its cast and added new characters in a bid to “inspire a diverse audience”.

The expansion is for a new YouTube show called Fruit Salad TV, which is “aiming to motivate your child to sing, dance and be part of a wonderful new story”, The Wiggles said on Instagram.

“For the first time ever, The Wiggles have expanded their line up to eight Wiggles, which is sure to double the fun!” the post says.

“Seeking to inspire a diverse audience with its gender balanced and diverse cast, Fruit Salad TV is sure to put a smile on the faces of children all around the world who see themselves reflected on the screen.”

Four members have been added to the group, including The Wiggles first-ever Indigenous member, Evie Ferris, and three women.

Anthony, one of the founding Wiggle’s, said: “As society has evolved, we have embraced the need for diversity and inclusiveness and want children all over the world to see themselves reflected on the screen.

“It’s so important that The Wiggles continue to evolve along with our society. This is the first step towards shaping The Wiggles for the next 30 years, taking us in a direction that truly represents and serves our community more inclusively.”

 

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A post shared by The Wiggles (@thewiggles)

One of the new characters is a yellow unicorn, Shirley Shawn, who is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns. Two other characters, a cop and a hand puppet, are also reportedly billed as non-binary but will not have many speaking parts.

Obviously, right-wing commentators and politicians are not happy.

Queensland senator Matt Canavan was outraged by the kid TV show’s decision to have a non-binary character, telling The Australian: “The Wiggles are free to do what they like. It was nice while it lasted. But you go woke, you go broke.”

Oliver Peterson, a presenter on Perth radio station 6PR, told Sky News Australia that he cannot “understand” why a non-binary unicorn had to be included in the new casting, saying it was an “odd” choice.

“If someone can enlighten me, if somebody could tell me why they have to have a non-binary unicorn, I’d love to know,” Peterson said. “It seems a little bit odd.”

Children’s TV shows are no stranger to controversy when it comes to diversity updates – an episode of Arthur that featured a gay rat wedding was banned by public broadcasters in the US.

The new Fruit Salad TV series will premiere on 4 September.

 

Related topics: Australia, non-binary

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